I *think* originally there were no boat chutes and the features were put in to aerate the water for fish. After a couple accidents, they wisely put the boat chutes in. The rest is mostly dumb luck, although I think they did make some changes to the bottom hole. I don't remember who told me all of this or how drunk they or I were, so YMMV.
I can say that it used to get pretty crowded back when the parking lot was dirt and the Inazone was a hot play boat.
As someone said already, they built the fish ladders to aerate the water but whoever designed that system made it super dangerous for people who happened to swim through it. You can see what it was like on the sides of some of the drops, it was just all the way across.
The way I heard it was that they just wanted to make it safe for people and didn't intend to make it a whitewater park. I'm totally spacing on the guys name , but the engineer/architect who headed up the project was a boater and took advantage of the project to create some holes/waves since they were going in there with excavators and concrete anyways. That is why its not like some of the other "cleaner" more dedicated official whitewater parks around the state. It was among the first too, and was a learning experience that started the manmade park along with Eben G Fine park in Boulder and Confluence in Denver.
I'm stoked they are still putting money into our rivers. I know that there will always be people who hate the Platte and refuse to paddle there. I get it, it's dirtier than real mountain rivers. I have a long history with the Platte. I started paddling in NW PA in the late 80's. We had lots of large shallow slow running rivers near where I lived. It was the land of class I and II. I had to drive three hours to get to anything really fun like the Lower Yough. When I came out to Colorado in 1997 I was blown away that I could playboat in Downtown Denver and stern squirt my Frankenstein in the eddies there. I could also boat the Boulder WW Park in January at 120cfs back then.
From what I know... The Platte River has 14.5 miles of man made WW. Starting at C-470 going past the 20th street (Denver Skate Park and the Tressel Wave). The orginal fish ladders and bank improvements started in the 1977-78 Confluence Park (making it one of the 1st WW Parks in the US) it would have looked like the East Race in Southbend, IN (minus the wave shaping wedges) openned to the public in 1978. Confluence Park was redesigned in 1995 by Rick McLaughlin to look the way it does today (he's also the guy in charge of the redesign of Union and the new Sheridan Surfing Park coming 2016). I believe Rick also did the Chutes at Union Blvd. The big picture was to bring WW rafting to Denver, but drought in the 2000's changed the way the Platte has been used. Now with cities fighting for Rec. Water Rights and tourist dollars money is coming back to our rivers. With two major builds coming to the Platte and a huge project coming to Loveland Colorado is going to lead the world in Manmade WW.
Could we soon see year round paddling in Colorado?
Reynolds landing is also go to be revamped! Along with sections of the platte all the way down to confluence! Wave shapers and a more naturalized stream bed seems to be the plan. I counted at least 4 adjustable features in the plans. I like the naturalized stream bed aprouch. They have already completed the the top portion near chatfield and down near Evans it's looking a lot better these days.
It makes sense to improve the drop at Oxford.There is already parking there and the U hole is between Union and Oxford.The current set up wastes the upper portion of the drop.The main hole of the bottom part is extremely difficult to get on and when you do it is super fast and shallow front\ diagonal surfing at a wierd angle or you will flush off of it.The fun part is the squirt line in the runnout wave train and surfing the collapsing piles,it has brutal eddy lines ,like Union.It seems cleaner than Union,even though that makes no sense,it smells better I guess.Below that is flatwater in a nicer streamside environment.
It would be tough to make the area from Union to Oxford "nice" with Waste Management,a junk yard,and a cement plant,there.Some things that they could do at the U- hole are:make multiple drops,the slide drop above the hole you play is big enough,and there are sort of creeky lines ,on the side not usually run,that could be improved by funnelizing,cleaning up junk cement,placing boulders to eddy behind,and creating a fast chute above a launching pad slab to practice boofs......also as long as we are talking increasing urban boating opportunities ,few know that Bear Creek has 3 class 3ish drops separated by flatwater in it's last couple miles above the Platte.It would be suitable for beginners at low and medium flows provided they prescouted for logs\strainers.At 600 the drops are solid III and is a very pushy eddyless on your toes for wood scramble to grab a bush for an eddy kind of run..
They are finally taking out those giant metal bridge standards in the river between Mississippi and Alameda which will make for a safe run all the way through town. Half tempted to run it today with the warm weather.
Learned the hard way last May during high water that the boat chute past the Denver water building is on the right. Wicked full flow 10' drop/dam with a keeper wave if you choose to go left. Oops
That's Dead Dog.Did you run the left side were you typewritered back to the middle or worked and somehow escaped?The good line would be semi tough in a raft and semi easy ,but high pin potential if you screwed up ,in a kayak or ducky at high flows .Running the inside corner of the left side would be exciting high.
We were tuning up a new row setup for an 18' bucket boat and had just portaged the monster around those effing standards that closed the river. We were feeling pretty bullet proof after running (and scouting) all of the previous chutes so it was a coin toss run on an unscouted horizon line. We leaned back, went over nice and straight then sucked right back up against the dam. Had to pull an 11' oar to push off.
Probably would have been a bad ending had someone fallen in the water, I think it was running 3300 cfs mid May after all of the rain and big Chatfield releases.
Lesson learned. Photo of Dead Dog shows it from the RR bridge. We ran smack dab in the middle of the dam wall.
Yikes! Glad you are OK...it is interesting to see it that low,the main flow off the corner I was referring to looks like it lands on ugly rocks but if you stay a little left it looks like the dam slope is slightly more vertical and the landing cleaner.It also looks like it protrudes out a little so when it pushes you toward the middle you might get tied up.We threw a cooler that was floating in an eddy into the troth at over 3k and it zipped/typewritered right over to the corner and got worked but broke free after a while.
That boat chute doesn't look like a vacation at high water (with an 18 footer). Could imagine wrapping that big boulder if you weren't able to pull hard to the right bank. We thought we saw some small live trees dancing in the current on the right so audibled the left side. Heaven forbid we float over a 1" sapling rather than a ten foot drowning machine.
Might check it all out with the mini cat this weekend since I-70 is going to be a parking lot heading west.
High it pushes towards those rocks on the right hand side( left in the picture) of the chute just over the lip of the second drop.It is a simple move left to avoid them,but if you got stuffed in the first hole and were upside down in a kayak or swimming it could be bad.At high water you have falls coming off the side of the dam and pillows make the chute seem narrower.
PS ..yes that hole at the bottom is OK play at various levels
Ran the "Dirty South" three times last summer between 3K and 4k in a 12' cat. Ran from Union to Globeville Landing. It is great having a quality run so close to home.
Was very tempted to run the very corner of the dam, it always looked good from the bike scout, but looks pretty ugly in your low water photos.
Also looks like it would lead directly into the lower rocks.
Daryl, you mention a mini cat and I see you are from Golden, do you ever get out on Lower Clear Creek (below Rigo to Coors)?
Cayo, I know you are a kayaker, but does lower couple miles of Bear Creek look good for a cat? I would guess it is tight with low bridges. I'll have to get out on my bike and do some scouting while we have this heat wave.
Boulder Creek, Lower Clear Creek and the Dirty South are my mid week, after work favorites, can't wait for spring!
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